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EMC, Hitachi settle storage suits

A five-year agreement calls for cross-licensing of patents and sets up a framework for exchanging technology pertinent to storage systems.

Storage makers EMC and Hitachi on Tuesday settled their patent-infringement suits and countersuits, agreeing to cross-license patents and exchange technology.

The five-year agreement calls for cross-licensing of their intellectual property and for mutual releases between EMC and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and Hitachi Computer Products, subsidiaries of the Japanese manufacturing giant. The companies also agreed to a framework for exchanging technology related to application programming interfaces, or APIs, that are pertinent to storage systems.

The companies said that the technology exchange, which is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks, will help them develop storage management applications that are designed to manage storage systems built by the other company.

EMC and Hitachi disclosed only that, under terms of the agreements, Hitachi has agreed to make "balancing" payments to EMC. The companies added that the remaining terms of the cross-license agreement are confidential.

Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC filed suit against Hitachi in April 2002, alleging that HDS shipped software that infringed on six EMC patents. EMC also asked the International Trade Commission to block the importation of the HDS software. The trade commission proceeding was scheduled to begin next week.

Hitachi countersued EMC later in April, alleging that EMC's Clariion and Symmetrix lines infringed on eight of its patents. Hitachi had sought an injunction forbidding sale of the products.

"We are happy to conclude this matter in a way that allows us to go about our business of competing in the marketplace," Isao Ono, a Hitachi executive, said in a statement.

EMC and Hewlett-Packard have also filed suits and countersuits alleging storage patent infringements.